Don't count on seeing Scott Kingery in South Philadelphia anytime soon.
Cesar Hernandez will be out until late July with an abdominal strain, which ostensibly opens up an opportunity for the Phillies to promote their standout second baseman from Double A, but GM Matt Klentak said Wednesday that Kingery isn't ready.
"In the case of Scott Kingery, he's doing great, he really is," Klentak said. "He's having a terrific year at Double A, he's doing all of the things we want him to do. I'd suspect in the pretty near future he'd move to Triple A. But it's not time to bring him to the major leagues right now. And not really related to Cesar's injury, it's not the right thing for Scott Kingery's development.
"But I don't want to discount how impressive he's been. He's been really good. He's taking steps forward in a lot of key areas and, for that reason, his move to Lehigh will come relatively soon."
Kingery, the 23-year-old second baseman the Phillies drafted in the second round in 2015, has hit .300/.375/.612 with 18 home runs for Double A Reading. Batting first and second, he's stolen 14 bases and scored 55 runs. It's been a bona fide step forward for a player who many thought could hit for average but whose power potential was unknown.
"It's a big jump, but it's happened in baseball history," Klentak said of a player going from Double A to the majors. "We actually did is last year, albeit briefly with (Jorge) Alfaro and (Roman) Quinn at various times. So it's not that we're against doing it. But with [Kingery], he doesn't even have a year of Double A under his belt yet. He's barely now two years removed from his draft class.
"We're going to do the right thing for Scott Kingery, which in this case is also the right thing for the organization."
Logical as it may be, Phillies fans are sick and tired of hearing about prospects "not being ready." When is a prospect ever really ready? Is an organization ever 100 percent certain a player will stick when he's promoted to the bigs?
"You test a player's confidence. Some players come up and do well and it could be the platform they need, a confidence-building move that allows their career to take off," Klentak said.
"For others ... a lot of the best minor-league players have not faced failure in their entire lives. They were the best player on their Little League teams, their high school team, their college team and in the minor leagues. So if they come up to the big leagues and that's the first time they taste failure, for some players it can have a negative effect. That's not true of everybody. Part of player development is understanding those players and who's better equipped to handle things than others.
"I think the human emotion of it - once anybody reaches a certain level, they don't want to be sent back. Nobody wants to be demoted in our jobs. No player wants to come to the major leagues and then be sent back. Obviously we've sent players back before and you can hear the emotion in their voices and how disappointed they are. If you can avoid that, we'd love to avoid that."
And so instead, be prepared to see more of Daniel Nava and Michael Saunders in the outfield and Howie Kendrick at second base. It's not the arrangement that will excite many Phillies fans, but Klentak remains resolute in his avoidance of calling up a player just to potentially energize the lineup or fan base.